MILAN — Italian film director Vittorio Taviani, who with his brother Paolo Taviani created masterpieces of the Italian cinema that claimed top honors at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, has died at the age of 88.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement that Taviani's death Sunday in Rome after a long illness "is a great loss for Italian cinema and culture, which are losing an undeniable and beloved protagonist."
The Taviani brothers were in their early 80s when they won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012 for the documentary "Caesar Must Die," which showed inmates of a high-security prison staging the Shakespearean tragedy. At the time, Taviana said he and his brother wanted to remind audiences that "even an inmate, on whose head is a terrible punishment, is, and remains, a man."
Their first big success came in 1977 when they won the Palm d'Or at Cannes for their film "Padre padrone," about a shepherd in Sardinia who sought to escape his domineering father by educating himself. The brothers first came across the real-life story in a newspaper article and then a book. "It seemed right away to us a beautiful story, a story to make," Tsuraviani once said. "We felt united with this story."
The brothers alternated directing scenes in their 50-year career, earning dozens of awards in the process. Their last film, in 2017, was titled "Una questione privata," or "A private matter," which was credited to both but directed by Paolo alone due to Vittorio's health, according to Corriere della Sera.
The brothers were born in San Miniato, Tuscany, in an anti-fascist family that cultivated their sense of social justice and love of culture.
Asked once if the brothers ever fought, Vittorio responded: "Of course. But not on set. When we play tennis."
In addition to Paolo, 86, Vittorio Taviani is survived by a son, Giuliano Taviani, a composer who collaborated on "Ceasar Must Die."